Who are we and what do we do?

Musings from our president

It is distressing how many times I’m asked “What is Grey Power?” “What do they do”?

Grey Power is an advocacy organisation striving to advance, support and promote the welfare and well-being of all those citizens in the 50 plus age group. This is being achieved in conjunction with other organisations or bodies with similar aims and purposes as it fights to protect the rights, security and dignity of superannuitants. Our mission is to be the most appropriate voice for all New Zealanders in the older age group.

The original Grey Power organization was founded in 1986 some 37 years ago, by an angry group of Superannuitants protesting against the imposition of the surcharge or tax on NZ Superannuation. People had been encouraged to save during their working life to supplement their retirement and they then felt they were being unfairly punished for having done so.

It began with big rallies in Auckland and attracted a lot of media attention and with it being so well publicised it meant the movement spread quickly and further associations soon popped up throughout the country. Although the original reason for forming the Grey Power movement was to remove the surtax, which was successful, it soon became apparent that there were other battles to lobby for in areas of health, electricity and energy, human rights, social services, local bodies and law, age care, justice and Retirement Villages, and the list goes on!

Soon after that, the Grey Power Federation was formed as the head of the organization and now there are 74 assns. with approx. 50,000 members. The National Federation makes several trips a year to Parliament to visit the different ministers or relevant organisations to advocate on various issues which confront us. For example, continued funding for the Super Gold Card, asking for more affordable doctor’s fees and lobbying for a more effective rates rebates system. One of our more significant break throughs, was the formation, in conjunction with Pulse Energy, of GP Electricity which provides cheaper power, gas, LPG and broadband for members.  Over the last few years our membership has stayed steady because of people joining to get cheaper power. Although they are not joining because of the work we do, we are still very grateful for those new members. As a lobby group a lot depends on numbers – if we go to parliament for instance, and were able to say we have 50,000 or one day 95,000 senior people who are upset about something, it does hold greater weight.

Nationally, given there are approx. 680,000 pensioners and statistics predict there will be near to a million by 2025, it is therefore increasingly important for us to grow our membership so as to give us more bargaining power on major issues. We don’t always realize the bargaining power that we as seniors could and should have but we are possibly the largest senior lobby group in NZ.       

This month delegates from association will attend the national Grey Power AGM in Wellington where delegates from all round the country will able to express their concerns and ideas about issues affecting their communities but we also share our achievements.

And there is always a lot to do, there have been significant changes rolled out by the Government and we intend to keep a watchful eye on this so none of it has an adverse effect on the older people in our communities. One of these is the changes to the health system and we have worked long and hard to do away with the ’post code’ health, where is makes a difference to how long you wait for a medical procedure, depending on where you live. With the DHB’s being disbanded we look to a future where health care is more equitable. The budget announcement last month of the removal of the $5 prescription charges would seem to be the only item of relief for older people.

 At a local level, with the escalated cost of living generally, we are keeping a close watch on the rising cost of rates and the lack of affordable housing for seniors.

At our own association, which is located at the Historic Village in 17th Ave, we are hoping to grow our membership this year. We have a small but dedicated group of volunteers who look after the front reception desk during the week, but only 5 committee members including myself. We are very much in need of more help in that area.

Once a month we have coffee morning/meetings in Tga, Papamoa and Katikati. Each quarter we publish a magazine and sometimes send out a newsletter which is designed to help keep members more immediately up-to-date with events and news. This is particularly important for people who don’t have an internet connection. As a member you also receive a comprehensive magazine from the Federation which includes reports from board members who tirelessly lobby government on our behalf.

If you feel that you would like to join Grey Power and help us make a difference to the quality of life for seniors, or for those who will inevitably reach that age group, please follow the details on the website – Join Now.

Take care,

Jennifer Custins


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